4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Stunning stage play, convincingly performed,
This review is from: Copenhagen (2002) + Archangel (2005) (Region 2) (Import) (DVD)
Transferring a stage play to the screen can often be problematic, and 'Copenhagen' clearly shows its roots. It's effectively a 90 minute conversation between two very clever people (with a third party thrown in to help us mere mortals in the audience understand what the heck is going on). So when you come to watch it, you need to be prepared for the reality of three people pacing around a room. They changes rooms, and even step outside for a while - but obviously all of the action could have taken place on a single stage set. And by `action', I mean intellectual activity, not running, shouting or shooting.
The play investigates the morality of the scientists whose research during WW2 led directly to the building of the atom bomb. Our two protagonists worked together before the war, but one is German and one is a Jew. Their motivations and considerations are unwrapped, explored and laid bare in stark, unvarnished dialogue - you expect to be able to cast the German, Heisenberg, in the role of the villain but the playwright has deliberately obscured motivation and outcome. By repeating key sequences, `Copenhagen' peels back different layers of possible realities (a wonderful device, given the fields of theoretical physics for which Heisenberg is most famous) and leaves us feeling unsettled and less certain of who the bad guys may have been. After all, Bohr went on to work at the Manhattan Project, which produced the bombs that fell on Japan. Heisenberg's research team did not develop a functional nuclear weapon - and the play makes suggestions about why that might have happened.
It's all conjecture, but it's very clever conjecture. Daniel Craig's performance is blistering at times and deeply convincing. Many people won't enjoy this film / play; unless you're interested in atomic structure or the moral history of Nazism it could be a bit bewildering. And even I (interested in both) could have done without one of the repeated scenes... I knew half the dialogue myself, by the end of the play.
Overall, though, an erudite, intelligent exploration of the morality of war and the nature of competitive friendship. Brilliant.
On top of that, in this edition you get Archangel as a bonus. A perfect pairing.